(AFP) – Jul 17, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said Thursday he was the victim of a "vendetta" after spending a night in custody over sodomy allegations that threaten to destroy his ambitions of seizing power.
Anwar, a former deputy premier who has mounted a comeback after being sacked and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges a decade ago, said he was treated like a "major criminal" and subjected to an examination of his genitals.
After being freed on police bail, he said he needed medical attention for an old back injury that flared up during a night in a bare cell at Kuala Lumpur police headquarters.
"Dumped in a cell to sleep on a cold cement floor with nothing... that has exacerbated the pain," he told a press conference. "I don't deserve this -- no Malaysian deserves this. Why treat me like a major criminal?"
"They have seen all my private parts. Of course I refused to be photographed, it could be on YouTube very soon!"
Anwar rejected the allegations levelled by 23-year-old aide Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who accused the opposition leader of sexually assaulting him at a luxury condo last month, saying it was a conspiracy.
"It appears that the events of the last few days, the nature of my unwarranted arrest, my overnight incarceration which was actually absolutely unnecessary, were an act of personal vengeance against me," he said.
Anwar said he was being targeted because of allegations he has made against Malaysia's attorney-general and chief of police over his treatment during his trial a decade ago.
"They should not use this as a personal vendetta against me."
The 60-year-old opposition leader defended his decision not to give a DNA sample during the examination, saying he had no faith in the system after fabricated DNA evidence was used against him at his earlier trial.
And he criticised the decision to send police commandos to arrest him Wednesday, even though he had agreed to appear for interrogation at a meeting scheduled just an hour later.
Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar defended the authorities' actions and rejected allegations the government was trying to derail Anwar's plans of forming a new administration with the help of government defectors.
Anwar's opposition alliance made stunning gains in March elections, winning a third of parliamentary seats and control of five states in a result that has redrawn Malaysia's political landscape.
"We are now under international pressure because of the various allegations, so we need to be careful in what we do," Syed Hamid said.
"(He) has created some negative perceptions. He has strong supporters in the international arena, he has conditioned the mind of the people that he is going to become prime minister and that we are going to stop him."
Syed Hamid criticised Anwar for not giving a blood sample, saying that if he was interested in determining the truth, "simply give the DNA and let the experts read the DNA".
Deputy police chief Ismail Omar said Anwar could be hit with a court order to force him to give a sample, and defended police tactics, saying there was a "reasonable suspicion" to arrest him.
"There was credible suspicion, credible information based on all the evidence that we had gathered," he told reporters.
Under the bail conditions, Anwar is required to report back to police on August 18.
Sodomy, even between consenting adults, is illegal in predominantly Muslim Malaysia and punishable by 20 years imprisonment.
In remarks certain to infuriate Malaysia's government, which has attacked Anwar as a "snitch" for the United States, the US State Department said Wednesday that the arrest raised "serious concerns".
Malaysia earlier this month issued a formal protest to the United States over its earlier comments on the investigation into the sodomy allegations, accusing it of meddling in its internal affairs.
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